SA woman found guilty of manslaughter

Kathryn Bermingham
Adriana Tennant has been found guilty of manslaughter after driving her ute at Nathan Freer

A South Australian woman who ran down a man with her ute following a disagreement over a trailer has been cleared of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter.

Adriana Betty Tennant, 49, was charged over the death of Nathan Freer, 38, at Quorn, in the Flinders Ranges, in November 2017.

She showed no emotion as Justice Trish Kelly handed down the verdict in the South Australian Supreme Court on Friday.

During the trial, the court heard the incident, which was captured by a dash-cam, happened after two families fell out over a request to loan a trailer.

On the night of his death, Mr Freer and his family had just left his mother's house when their car passed the ute of Tennant and her husband, Derek Tennant.

Mr Freer asked his partner to do a U-turn and follow the ute after Mr Tennant stuck his fingers out at their car.

The two vehicles then stopped in the middle of the road, before Mr Freer got out and threw a beer bottle at the couple's ute.

As he approached the ute with a bottle, Tennant did a 270-degree turn to drive directly into Mr Freer, then crashed through a chain mesh fence, eventually stopping at the bottom of an embankment.

Prosecutor Lisa Dunlop said Mr Freer was dragged underneath the ute for more than 10 metres.

"He died very quickly after being struck by that vehicle," she said.

In delivering the not guilty verdict on murder, Justice Kelly said the events unfolded so rapidly she could not be sure Tennant had any intention other than to knock Mr Freer down.

She said a "puzzling" aspect of the incident was Tennant's lack of control over the car after it hit Mr Freer.

"The fact that the vehicle then crashed through a chain mesh fence down an embankment... raises a question mark as to the accused's control of the vehicle and actual intention at the moment of impact," she said.

But Justice Kelly said Tennant would have realised she could have caused serious injury to Mr Freer by driving the car directly at him, and she was therefore guilty of manslaughter.

Tennant's offer to plead guilty to manslaughter was not accepted by prosecutors, who argued she intended to kill Mr Freer.

She was remanded in custody to face court for a sentencing hearing in September.